Striking similarities between publications from China describing single gene knockdown experiments in human cancer cell lines
- 1.2k Downloads
Comparing 5 publications from China that described knockdowns of the human TPD52L2 gene in human cancer cell lines identified unexpected similarities between these publications, flaws in experimental design, and mis-matches between some described experiments and the reported results. Following communications with journal editors, two of these TPD52L2 publications have been retracted. One retraction notice stated that while the authors claimed that the data were original, the experiments had been out-sourced to a biotechnology company. Using search engine queries, automatic text-analysis, different similarity measures, and further visual inspection, we identified 48 examples of highly similar papers describing single gene knockdowns in 1–2 human cancer cell lines that were all published by investigators from China. The incorrect use of a particular TPD52L2 shRNA sequence as a negative or non-targeting control was identified in 30/48 (63%) of these publications, using a combination of Google Scholar searches and visual inspection. Overall, these results suggest that some publications describing the effects of single gene knockdowns in human cancer cell lines may include the results of experiments that were not performed by the authors. This has serious implications for the validity of such results, and for their application in future research.
KeywordsGene knockdown Cancer Cell lines Publications Intertextual distance China
We thank Ms Mara Hvistendahl for invaluable support and assistance. JAB thanks journal editors and peer reviewers for their assistance, and members of the Children’s Cancer Research Unit for discussions.
- Amancio, D. R., Aluisio, S. M., Oliveira, O. N., & Costa, L. da F. (2012). Complex networks analysis of language complexity. Europhysics Letters, 100(5), 58002. doi: 10.1209/0295-5075/100/58002.
- Argamon, S., & Levitan, S. (2005). Measuring the usefulness of function words for authorship attribution. In Proceeding of the 2005 ACH/ALLC conference, June 2005, Victoria, BC, Canada.Google Scholar
- Bowen, A., & Casadevall, A. (2015). Increasing disparities between resource inputs and outcomes, as measured by certain health deliverables, in biomedical research. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112(36), 11335–11340. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1504955112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Carpena, P., Bernaola-Galván, P., Hackenberg, M., Coronado, A. V., & Oliver, J. L. (2009). Level statistics of words: Finding keywords in literary texts and symbolic sequences. Physical Review E: Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics, 79(3 Pt 2), 035102. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevE.79.035102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Fahrenberg, U., Biondi, F., Corre, K., Jégourel, C., Kongshøj, S., & Legay, A. (2014). Measuring global similarity between texts. In L. Besacier et al. (Eds.), Statistical language and speech processing, lecture notes in computer science (Vol. 8791, pp. 220–232). Switzerland: Springer International Publishing. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-11397-5_17.
- Hockey, S., & Martin, J. (1988). OCP users’ manual. Oxford: Oxford University Computing Service.Google Scholar
- Labbé, C., & Labbé, D. (2012). Detection of hidden intertextuality in the scientific publications. In 11th International conference on textual data statistical analysis, 2012, Liège, Belgium (pp. 537–551). Liège: LASLA - SESLA.Google Scholar
- Pan, Z. Y., Yang, Y., Pan, H., Zhang, J., Liu, H., Yang, Y., et al. (2015). Lentivirus-mediated TPD52L2 depletion inhibits the proliferation of liver cancer cells in vitro. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, 8(2), 2334–2341.Google Scholar
- Retraction. (2016). Lentivirus-mediated TPD52L2 depletion inhibits the proliferation of liver cancer cells in vitro [Retraction]. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, 9(6), 12416.Google Scholar
- Shvets, A. (2014). A method of automatic detection of pseudoscientific publications. In: D. Filev et al. (Eds.), Intelligent systems′2014, advances in intelligent systems and computing (Vol. 323, pp. 533–539). Switzerland: Springer International Publishing. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-11310-4_46.
- Tuzzi, A. (2010). What to put in the bag? Comparing and contrasting procedures for text clustering. Statistica Applicata-Italian Journal of Applied Statistics, 22(1), 81–98.Google Scholar
- Wang, Z., Sun, J., Zhao, Y., Guo, W., Lv, K., & Zhang, Q. (2014). Lentivirus-mediated knockdown of tumor protein D52-like 2 inhibits glioma cell proliferation. Cellular and Molecular Biology (Noisy-le-grand), 60(1), 39–44.Google Scholar
- Wilson, S. H., Bailey, A. M., Nourse, C. R., Mattei, M. G., & Byrne, J. A. (2001). Identification of MAL2, a novel member of the MAL proteolipid family, though interactions with TPD52-like proteins in the yeast two-hybrid system. Genomics, 76(1–3), 81–88. doi: 10.1006/geno.2001.6610.CrossRefGoogle Scholar